Exodus is my favorite book of the Bible (subject to change, but that’s been true for years). It’s a weird one, but I absolutely love it. There are so many pieces of the Exodus story that have fundamentally changed the way I see God, my neighbor, and myself. I can’t stop reading it.
I have always sensed a strong connection to Moses, and today I remembered that as I reread Exodus 4…
Then the Lord said to [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” – Exodus 4:11-13
[^^ That’s the English Standard Version, which isn’t great at being gender-inclusive, but it’s the version I was told to get my freshman year of college. It’s a small, pink Bible with a lovely design on the cover and two of my favorite bracelets superglued to the spine. I often return to this Bible because it’s the most worn – I feel safe when I see my own handwriting in the margins and bright, beautiful colors underlining favorite passages].
God made men and women, and both men and women can be mute, deaf, seeing, or blind. This translation could be more accurate.
But what draws me to the text is the last sentence: “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
First of all, I love the image of God pushing my lips into funny shapes, like a little kid trying to shove all the air out of your cheeks. It makes me smile because a) I believe God is that playful and b) I believe God is close enough to do that.
Secondly, I resonate with the metaphor of shaping / forming mouths after my experience in voice lessons (sophomore year of high school – senior year of college). It took months to teach my lips, tongue, and throat to produce different vowel shapes from other languages to perform one piece of music. I remember singing with a popsicle stick behind my top teeth to keep my lower jaw in line with the upper, all while balancing on a small see-saw to control the inevitable bouncing I’m prone to. It took dedication to get it right.
Thirdly, I’m grateful for a God who is willing to teach over time. God didn’t explain to Moses what the plan was, but God promised to be there every moment. God asked for trust that Moses was the man for the job. Moses made mistakes – significant ones (Moses was a murderer) – but God would give him the words anyway. And they would be good words.
God never came to me in a burning bush; my sister didn’t find me in a basket on Lake Michigan; I don’t own any staffs. But I know that God has my mouth (and my ears and my eyes). I’ll remember that when I think my words belong only to me.
PS. The image you (likely) clicked on to read this is of the aforementioned Bible, taken overlooking the wilderness of Israel.